Re: Water: Actually Good For You!

1

What's the argument here. You must only read that which is marketed at you. Publishers marketing categories are sacrosanct.


Posted by: Asteele | Link to this comment | 06- 9-14 3:47 PM
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The argument is that YA fiction lacks nuance and isn't especially self-aware. Like teenagers. Adults should read Harlequin romance because it's nuanced and objective. Or maybe Sue Grafton. You know, quality literature. Not that adolescent trash.


Posted by: ydnew | Link to this comment | 06- 9-14 3:55 PM
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There should be a term for the variety of contrarianism that's really the consensus view dressed up as contrarianism.

"Strawman".


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 06- 9-14 4:03 PM
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2 - In very limited defense of the author, she does apparently lump mystery novels in with YA. (And she splits out dystopian YA, which is immensely popular, from other, more sexxxy-cancer related forms of the genre.) But this is a tremendously stupid article.


Posted by: snarkout | Link to this comment | 06- 9-14 4:18 PM
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There is a much better argument against YA fiction! Slate shoulda hired me.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 06- 9-14 4:27 PM
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Also she appears to be Slate's evangelicalism-from-the-inside author? So whatever that means? Question mark?


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 06- 9-14 4:28 PM
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If people want me to read more adult fiction, they should tell people writing for adults to be less fucking wordy.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 06- 9-14 4:29 PM
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I mean, Rowling got wordy, but not until she already had me hooked. Dostoyevsky just went on and on and on before I could even figure out which of the 16 different names were ways in which he was referring to Raskolnikov.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 06- 9-14 4:34 PM
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The article is stupid, but contra the OP, I do think she mostly has the zeitgeist right. Anti-snobbery snobbery is more the norm than it's opposite.


Posted by: Criminally Bulgur | Link to this comment | 06- 9-14 4:35 PM
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4: I thought about summarizing more earnestly but decided that her distinction between YA trash, YA literature, adult trash, and adult literature was silly enough that it didn't deserve a detailed report. Most accurate shorter her: Read good books.


Posted by: ydnew | Link to this comment | 06- 9-14 4:39 PM
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I've had more than a few adults get pretty aggressively snippy on learning I wasn't on the Rowling bandwagon.


Posted by: dairy queen | Link to this comment | 06- 9-14 4:39 PM
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Yeah, I'm with Bulger. It's totally unfashionable now to shame people for the pop culture tastes. We have to start somewhere. Vampire novels, young adult fiction, whatever.


Posted by: PGD | Link to this comment | 06- 9-14 4:40 PM
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11: I have a joke about how come there's no teenage pregnancy at Hogwarts (because you can use "accio sperm" as post-coital birth control so long as you don't mind your wand getting messy). I like people to get that joke.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 06- 9-14 4:50 PM
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I'm used to your jokes being funny.


Posted by: nosflow | Link to this comment | 06- 9-14 4:52 PM
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That usually happens when people don't get my joke.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 06- 9-14 4:54 PM
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Also, I read S Alexies's book recently and while it is no doubt far above average for a YA novel, it tends to support the articled linked in the OP.


Posted by: dairy queen | Link to this comment | 06- 9-14 4:55 PM
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You should read Tonto and the Lone Ranger Fistfight in Heaven (or its little known porno variant, in which "fight" is stricken).

Right now I'm rereading Jane Eyre, and I've got to say that Graham's claim that literary quality rests in the protagonists not ending up "married or dead or happily grasping hands, looking to the future" strikes me as profoundly ahistorical. (Also, fuck you, The Westing Game owns and is better than the last four DeLillo books combined.)


Posted by: snarkout | Link to this comment | 06- 9-14 5:05 PM
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Huh, I'd only heard of this article from people complaining on Facebook about how terrible it is (proof against the OP's thesis, I guess). Skimming it, maybe it's not that terrible. I have no idea if the below is true because I don't read "YA" fiction and barely know what it is, but if the below is true it seems like a pretty legit set of reasons for why adults should be snobby fiction for adults vs. this stuff:

But crucially, YA books present the teenage perspective in a fundamentally uncritical way. It's not simply that YA readers are asked to immerse themselves in a character's emotional life--that's the trick of so much great fiction--but that they are asked to abandon the mature insights into that perspective that they (supposedly) have acquired as adults. When chapter after chapter in Eleanor & Park ends with some version of "He'd never get enough of her," the reader seems to be expected to swoon. But how can a grown-up, even one happy to be reminded of the shivers of first love, not also roll her eyes?
Most importantly, these books consistently indulge in the kind of endings that teenagers want to see, but which adult readers ought to reject as far too simple. YA endings are uniformly satisfying, whether that satisfaction comes through weeping or cheering. These endings are emblematic of the fact that the emotional and moral ambiguity of adult fiction--of the real world--is nowhere in evidence in YA fiction. These endings are for readers who prefer things to be wrapped up neatly, our heroes married or dead or happily grasping hands, looking to the future. But wanting endings like this is no more ambitious than only wanting to read books with "likable" protagonists.

Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 06- 9-14 5:06 PM
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"Reader, I did not marry him, nor did I happily grasp his hand."


Posted by: | Link to this comment | 06- 9-14 5:06 PM
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17.last - I should note that like the rest of America, probably including Don DeLillo, I haven't read the last four DeLillo books.


Posted by: snarkout | Link to this comment | 06- 9-14 5:07 PM
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17: Yes, it's on the list. And kid getting the YA book.


Posted by: dairy queen | Link to this comment | 06- 9-14 5:14 PM
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My take after reading like one paragraph of the article* was "people should read whatever they want but I would have been pleased by this in the years when not giving a shit about Harry Potter and the Fancifully Named Whatever made people shake their fists at you and use stupid, annoying words like 'muggle.'"

*fine, ok, actually just someone's angry one-sentence reaction to the article.


Posted by: Mister Smearcase | Link to this comment | 06- 9-14 5:21 PM
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We are probably going to get around to Harry Potter one of these years. Any good?


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 06- 9-14 5:33 PM
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Sifu's joke is better.


Posted by: dairy queen | Link to this comment | 06- 9-14 5:39 PM
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It's totally unfashionable now to shame people for the pop culture tastes

If you take this to be the point of the article (it's certainly a point), then fine, it's not conservative contrarianism. Insofar as it's about how "literature" is better than YA, I don't think anyone disputes that. But if it is about shaming people, then what she really needs to do is demonstrate that the good stuff really is better, and that it's not a chore to read.


Posted by: ogged | Link to this comment | 06- 9-14 5:45 PM
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YA endings are uniformly satisfying, whether that satisfaction comes through weeping or cheering. These endings are emblematic of the fact that the emotional and moral ambiguity of adult fiction--of the real world--is nowhere in evidence in YA fiction.

I was sort of mildly curious before, but now I'm definitely not going to read that article. This woman is trolling, disingenuous, or an idiot, and I don't really care which.

Helloooooo Nat Hentoff, Robert Cormier, Chris Crutcher, Jacqueline Woodson (sp?), Jeanne Wakatsuki, Theodore Taylor, Norma Klein! I see you hiding over there.

Oh wait no YA books aren't morally ambiguous. Bah.

(It is a tribute to Slate's legendary trolling skills that I actually expected Ogged's link to be about water until I moused over).


Posted by: Witt | Link to this comment | 06- 9-14 5:45 PM
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We are probably going to get around to Harry Potter one of these years. Any good?

Harry Potter and the Time Capsule of Incest is NOT where I would start with Heinlein.


Posted by: Cryptic ned | Link to this comment | 06- 9-14 5:50 PM
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What joke?


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 06- 9-14 5:50 PM
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Walter Dean Myers! Virginia Hamilton! Alice Childress! Heck, even Scott O'Dell!

And those are just the '80s and '90s ones I can name off the top of my head. If she thinks this stuff isn't getting published today, she has another think coming.

(Yes, I said "think.")


Posted by: Witt | Link to this comment | 06- 9-14 5:50 PM
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Neal Shusterman!


Posted by: Witt | Link to this comment | 06- 9-14 5:52 PM
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I had one of my biggest parenting failures with an unhappily ending YA book, Treece's Viking Dawn. Read the first couple of chapters to my son the summer he was 8 or so, which point he was hooked so i said he could rip through the rest on his own, no problem. What is summer good for if not lying about in your jammies obsessively reading? I toddled off to the office without warning my fellow parent - blissfully ignorant of the ending.* Co parent had a seriously distraught child on his hands by tea time. The book was so good, he cared so much about the characters, that the ending really freaked him out. Poor little guy was physically shaky for at least 24 hours. I felt like a huge jerk when I got home.

*spoiler! All die, except the young protagonist, depicted in stark realistic detail.


Posted by: dairy queen | Link to this comment | 06- 9-14 5:56 PM
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25: I don't understand why it's the author's burden to make the case that "literary fiction" is "not a chore to read." ?


Posted by: dairy queen | Link to this comment | 06- 9-14 6:10 PM
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Because I assume that the presumption that it is is what keeps people from trying it.


Posted by: ogged | Link to this comment | 06- 9-14 6:16 PM
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I second 32.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 06- 9-14 6:16 PM
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34 before seeing 33.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 06- 9-14 6:19 PM
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Anyway, I've tried reading literary fiction. Sometimes it's worth it, but "chore" seems to be a good description in general.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 06- 9-14 6:20 PM
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Well I'm not going to defend the article in detail because a lot if it was self-contradictory. But I don't agree that I have to make the case for literature being "not a chore" when calling bullshit on aggressive evangelism re awesomeness of Rowling.


Posted by: dairy queen | Link to this comment | 06- 9-14 6:24 PM
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"chore" = return to library. Plenty books left on shelves.


Posted by: dairy queen | Link to this comment | 06- 9-14 6:27 PM
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I was at the library on Sunday. They had an inflatable slide for the kids.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 06- 9-14 6:32 PM
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So is the problem that she's empirically wrong in describing YA fiction as she does in 18, because (a) it's not true that readers "are asked to abandon the mature insights into that [teenage] perspective that they (supposedly) have acquired as adults" and (b) it's not true that YA fiction neatly ties up endings in a way that's unsophisticated? I really have no idea. I don't think I've read a single author listed by Witt.

But if she's right about both those things, then the point in 18 seems pretty dang defensible.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 06- 9-14 6:36 PM
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I don't agree that I have to make the case for literature being "not a chore" when calling bullshit on aggressive evangelism re awesomeness of Rowling

Why not? Otherwise, comment 1 seems right. There's this stuff, which has certain markers of adult seriousness, and you should be reading that, not this stuff that lacks those markers, because...?

She's not saying "just read the classics," because that's not the right kind of contrarianism, so this category of "adult" stuff is left vague, but when it's vague, it's pretty unconvincing. Let's wait for someone to say "Jonathan Franzen" so we can snort and go back to watching Archer.


Posted by: ogged | Link to this comment | 06- 9-14 6:37 PM
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Anyway, I'm not a fiction reader, so let me say to myself, chill the fuck out, Witt's got this.


Posted by: ogged | Link to this comment | 06- 9-14 6:39 PM
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40: I haven't read the actual article, but

(a) She's certainly wrong about either of those things being remotely universal qualities of YA.

(b) And in any case, oh no, how dreadful to contemplate that anyone might enjoy reading anything juvenile or escapist ever.


Posted by: redfoxtailshrub | Link to this comment | 06- 9-14 6:41 PM
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Because, if you're an adult, it's better to be a serious sophisticated adult than an unsophisticated, naive teenager, and there's something weird about actual adults aggressively wanting to soak themselves in the perspective of unsophisticated, naive teenagers instead of a more mature adult perspective?

I mean, like I say, maybe she's just wrong about what's in YA books, she could well be. But if you grant that her description in 18 is accurate, which may be too much to grant, then the overall point seems pretty decent.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 06- 9-14 6:41 PM
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44 to 41.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 06- 9-14 6:41 PM
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17 better than the last four DeLillo books combined

At some point DeLillo books got so bad that they started retroactively making me think I always hated the DeLillo books I had, some time earlier, professed to love.


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 06- 9-14 6:42 PM
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Really I find the point in 2 the most convincing.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 06- 9-14 6:43 PM
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Agree her categories are so contradictory they are in effect mush. Still find it somewhat hilarious how stridently people I know have defended loving Rowling and gotten in my face about my preference for reading well almost anything else.


Posted by: dairy queen | Link to this comment | 06- 9-14 6:43 PM
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36:Duty becomes joy. Not sure why, but I am at my best and happiest when working with a book. Resistance and friction generate heat and light. YA and genre, frankly because of the "bad writing" and distant subject matter, are better than reading about some fucking suburban couple or yet another stupid war.

Three Stooges repulsive? Your problem, not Larry's. Nothing human is alien for the expansive intelligence.

Discovering Mario Tronti's "La fabbrica e la societa," 1961, is finally becoming available in English after 50 years. God it feels good.

Current watching:still Rohmer.

And Ouran High School School Club unspeakably fucking great. Laugh and Cry. Try it for 23 minutes.

(From comments. No it is not yaoi. Hardcore Shoujo.)


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 06- 9-14 6:51 PM
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If the Three Stooges are literature, somebody sign me up for an English degree.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 06- 9-14 6:52 PM
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If the Three Stooges are literature

Larry spins, Curly measures, Moe cuts. Such is life.


Posted by: dalriata | Link to this comment | 06- 9-14 6:57 PM
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41.last: come on. Give adult non-genre fiction a fighting chance, make it Hillary Mantel. Or, if you were asking me, I'd say Pynchon, but yeah yeah okay.

Me, I've been reading WWII histories because I apparently have gotten in striking distance of middle age.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 06- 9-14 7:02 PM
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aggressive evangelism re awesomeness of Rowling
gotten in my face about my preference for reading well almost anything else
I don't think I've met anyone who'd act like this since junior high.


Posted by: Eggplant | Link to this comment | 06- 9-14 7:02 PM
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Except she's preemptively putting Rowling in the category of not worth talking about (I mean, she says Twilight and Divergent, but extend that) along with mysteries and bodice rippers, technothrillers, and Heinlein-bones-his-mom. She is arguing a certain segment of non-fantastic YA as being ineligible to be in a certain category of literary fiction because of its readerly qualities. This achieves the impressive effect of being incorrect about the scope of young adult fiction she's talking about (you should read Robert Cormier, Ogged, if you've ever thought to yourself, "Someone should write Jude the Obscure, only set in a suburban Boston prep school!"); incorrect about literary fiction (let's eliminate Shakespeare's work that doesn't end with marriage or death from the canon!); and, by virtue of arguing about incredibly narrow slices of both young adult and literary novels, essentially pointless (is my epic new novel Hroðulf and Wealhþeow a historical, Viking-themed, or paranormal romance?). I suspect based on her general wrongness that she's wrong about other things and thinks, for example, that Dave Eggers' The Circle is something one should readthat or that Jonathan Franzen is a hero and a real human being .


Posted by: snarkout | Link to this comment | 06- 9-14 7:03 PM
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52.last: Me also. I tried to read a history of the Thirty Years War, but it wasn't the same.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 06- 9-14 7:03 PM
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And aggressive evangelism in defense of Star Trek the Next Generation is no vice.


Posted by: Eggplant | Link to this comment | 06- 9-14 7:04 PM
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In other news, St. John Rivers is a real prick.


Posted by: snarkout | Link to this comment | 06- 9-14 7:05 PM
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Maybe I should try some literature when I'm done with my World War II-spy book. Not DFW or Franzen. People keep telling me I should real Michael Chabon. Does that count as literature?


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 06- 9-14 7:10 PM
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Me, I've been reading WWII histories because I apparently have gotten in striking distance of middle age.

I finally watched "Band of Brothers" last week, and part of the reason it affected me so much was definitely related to approaching middle age. First off there's the fact that it came out almost 15 years ago and yet it feels like yesterday. Then they open each episode with bits of interviews with surviving (at the time) members of Easy Company... and most of them are dead now.

The 70th anniversary of D-Day (when I can remember the 40th) didn't help either.


Posted by: Josh | Link to this comment | 06- 9-14 7:13 PM
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Do you intend to read Chabon's Hugo Award-winning alternate history novel, his swords-and-sandals novel featuring asskicking Jews, or his Sherlock Holmes fanfic.


Posted by: snarkout | Link to this comment | 06- 9-14 7:14 PM
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I really liked Kavalier and Clay, and thought Yiddish Policeman's Union was ok.


Posted by: teraz kurwa my | Link to this comment | 06- 9-14 7:14 PM
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I've also just started reading this book, which makes for a nice corrective to the "Greatest Generation" pap. (Not that "Band of Brothers" qualifies as pap.)


Posted by: Josh | Link to this comment | 06- 9-14 7:16 PM
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Yeah, I have an itchy sympathy for this particular lawn and getting off of it, but generally speaking it's more persuasive to argue in support of your taste than to tear down someone else's. As snarkout points out, what's impressive to me is what a narrow slice of "adult" literature she's stumping for. She's using grounds (ambiguity, complexity) that were laid out by early-to-mid-20th-century critics who were trying to make space in the university for contemporary thought. F.R. Leavis comes to mind although I may have that wrong. It's probably less interesting than I give it -- really this is someone working backwards from a prejudice.


Posted by: k-sky | Link to this comment | 06- 9-14 7:16 PM
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PS:Is it true as I read on his website, that Shalizi only read a mere 79 books in 2013? I presumed 2-3 times that. Is he not counting fiction?

I read 65 non-fiction in 2013 and I expect to hit 80+ this year.


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 06- 9-14 7:21 PM
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Sidebar to neb: I was unable to finagle a freely assignable reservation at your resto choice, sorry (offer personal in a way that would have been awkward to assign).


Posted by: dairy queen | Link to this comment | 06- 9-14 7:24 PM
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Through Black Spruce is good (Boyden), as is The Island (Macleod)
Somehow this thread made me think of them, both about the after effects if things, in part.

Chabon has his moments, but is hit and miss.


Posted by: OPINIONATED CANADIAN CONTENT | Link to this comment | 06- 9-14 7:34 PM
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I don't think we're supposed to actually finish Chabon novels. They're just about a nice set-up for a novel.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 06- 9-14 7:34 PM
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Chabon's partner (wife? don't know for sure) just published a WWII themed novel, had been well reviews, might make a decent segue?


Posted by: dairy queen | Link to this comment | 06- 9-14 7:37 PM
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Does Nero Wolfe count as literary? I've got one of those I could read.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 06- 9-14 7:38 PM
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59: I read Five Came Back, which was unsatisfying, then watched Band of Brothers because you were on about it and I had never seen it, then tried to research my grandfather's service in Cuba, without much success, then read Band of Brothers, and now am reading this, which seems like it will serve something of the purpose mentioned in 62. Then I have The Longest Day queued up.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 06- 9-14 7:41 PM
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The Longest Day isn't bad, but I always like Midway better. Henry Fonda, Hal Holbrook, and boats.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 06- 9-14 7:43 PM
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Chabon is great, but per snarkout, of course his good books are genre. Mysteries of Pittsburgh and Wonder Boys aren't, but they're stupid. The real argument against reading YA that I alluded to above is that it is supporting the brokenness of the publishing industry, where the only way to write a crisp, well-observed, plotful novel that attracts readers is to claim it's for (and have its protagonists be) fifteen-year-olds.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 06- 9-14 7:45 PM
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71: I dunno if the book has bankable stars.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 06- 9-14 7:45 PM
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Also, the OP is full of crap about fiction categories. Great, even good fiction can transcend whatever genre it is working within, bad fiction is just bad. A book containing themes and characters that resonate with a 15 year old may resonate with a 30 year old, but perhaps not the other way around - not because the 30 year old is so much more nuanced, but because they can remember being 15. Not so much the other way around.


Posted by: OPINIONATED CANADIAN CONTENT | Link to this comment | 06- 9-14 7:47 PM
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It has Henry Fonda and John Wayne, I think.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 06- 9-14 7:48 PM
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OMG:

Heilein and his first wife had a three way with L. Ron Hubbard.

[I shudder to think why the biographer has to include the word "consensual" here.]


Posted by: rob helpy-chalk | Link to this comment | 06- 9-14 7:52 PM
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That was in the other thread.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 06- 9-14 7:54 PM
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really this is someone working backwards from a prejudice

I'm sure that's right. And I'm happy to concede that her argument doesn't really work as written.

But -- most art forms suffer in terms of artistic quality when they're specifically designed to appeal primarily to teenagers between the ages of 10 and 16 (in general, obviously there can be individual exceptions that transcend the problem). Why should fiction be any different? Why would we expect a genre aimed primarily at 14-year-olds to be in general awesome?

It doesn't seem insane to at least raise that as an issue.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 06- 9-14 7:58 PM
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most art forms suffer in terms of artistic quality when they're specifically designed to appeal primarily to teenagers between the ages of 10 and 16

Oh like there's a better movie than Invasion U.S.A.


Posted by: k-sky | Link to this comment | 06- 9-14 8:07 PM
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More seriously, it doesn't seem insane to at least raise that as an issue. But I'd leave that article behind when you do that.


Posted by: k-sky | Link to this comment | 06- 9-14 8:09 PM
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In context 'consensual' seems to be referring to both Heinlein and his first wife being happy with the relationship with L Ron Hubbard (it was a very actively open marriage), in contrast to his first wife being upset over a later triangular relationship with his second wife leading to the collapse of the marriage. No reason to shudder except perhaps at the idea of fucking Hubbard, but then presumably the guy had a lot of charsima, not sure about the young Hubbard's looks.


Posted by: teraz kurwa my | Link to this comment | 06- 9-14 8:12 PM
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70: Band of Brothers really got to me, I'll admit. Particularly at this juncture in my career I'm a total sucker for anything that plays up that kind of camaraderie.

I need to find a copy of The Longest Day; one of these days I want to do a double bill of it and A Bridge Too Far.

76, 81: I was hoping that the Heinlein biography would at least be worth reading for the bits of information about Heinlein's life, but based on DeLong's comments I think I'll be taking a pass.


Posted by: Josh | Link to this comment | 06- 9-14 8:21 PM
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You know who had great camaraderie. Harry, Ron, and Hermione.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 06- 9-14 8:28 PM
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I noticed that the Slate author didn't even bother trying to include Phillip Pullman in her argument. I mean, for God's sake, in one of his series...

**Spoiler**


**no really, spoiler**


...the life of his main character's life gets mutilating by a gatling-gun/train (and then she meets an awesome revolutionary in the third book and floods London, but it's sort of sad). And in another of the series, not only are both of her parents actively evil, SHE KILLS GOD, and then has to live separated from the love of her life, in order to preserve order in the universe. I mean, these books are nominally for, like, 12 year-olds.


Posted by: Jackmormon | Link to this comment | 06- 9-14 8:40 PM
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84 - Yes, first reading Pullman was intense for me for all of the stated reasons - and I was an adult. I got great pleasure out of wondering what would have happened if I had read him as a kid.


Posted by: bill | Link to this comment | 06- 9-14 9:05 PM
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So Pullman is objectively the best thing on tw/tter in all real and conceivable intergalactic space time conceptions and mashups. And all criticism of the linked article above well taken EXCEPT the wierd "shameless evangelism" dynamic. Despite the irritating effect I seem to have on many of you, in real life I am generally treated affectionately by a wide range of nearest-and-dearest to pals, and i think accurately classed by many if not most of them as having oddly strenuous reading habits. This is overwhelmingly not an issue as whatever, you read what you like, I read what I like, no problem. I'm happy to chat about what I've read lately but I am very far from shoving my reading habits down anyone's throat. Usually just not an issue. BUT there was a very odd dynamic around pottermania where many people I usually have frictionless relations with were spontaneously trying to bludgeon me into endorsing the literary merits of Rowling. See here for post mortem I just find kind of weak:

http://www.tor.com/blogs/2011/06/genre-in-the-mainstream-the-literary-merits-of-potter

And that was what I responded to in the article linked in the main post.


Posted by: dairy queen | Link to this comment | 06- 9-14 9:47 PM
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I didn't particularly like Pullman. I felt like I'd been cornered by some street preacher who just wouldn't let up. One of the main things I dislike about religion is the presumption that religion, and one religion in particular (whichever one it may be), is directly related to individual goodness. Other than that it was ok, but not great. In recent depressing horrible bad shit happens YA genre fiction I liked the first two books of the Chaos Walking trilogy by Patrick Ness. I should read the third one at some point. I bet the remaining characters all die and/or turn evil while everyone suffers horribly.


Posted by: teraz kurwa my | Link to this comment | 06- 9-14 10:01 PM
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Despite the irritating effect I seem to have on many of you

?


Posted by: teraz kurwa my | Link to this comment | 06- 9-14 10:12 PM
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You all know suspiciously much about YA. You would be part of the problem, if Slate were capable of being right about anything.


Posted by: Flippanter | Link to this comment | 06- 9-14 10:14 PM
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Haven't read Pullman's books but there is no religion in his tw/tter story, just intoxicating dung ... lots of dung ...


Posted by: dairy queen | Link to this comment | 06- 9-14 10:16 PM
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Why are you googleproofing "Twitter"?


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 06- 9-14 10:19 PM
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I will also note that I came to Pullman's Dark Materials trilogy after everyone else in my extended family had read it, which means that my sisters' kids got to enter into a lively discussion of adults who took the books very seriously. If needed, that is another knock against the Slate person's silly argument. (Apologies if I'm seeming defensive: this is a proxy battle.)


Posted by: Jackmormon | Link to this comment | 06- 9-14 10:22 PM
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Most YA that I end up reading is just a PG13 version of genre escapism with a dose of some of that annoying early teenagey mentality that the article slams. However, I don't see anything wrong with including escapist fun in one's reading mix, but then I wouldn't.


Posted by: teraz kurwa my | Link to this comment | 06- 9-14 10:22 PM
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I don't know - because it feels dirty? I lead a sheltered life.

Agree with teraz kurwa my re: YA, and definitely endorse the virtues of escapism. Just realistic that the mileage on my preferred escapism varies wildly with that of others.

BTW - any recommendations for excellent food in London for stepdaughter who avoids gluten and dairy (keeping eczema at bay)? Near Wigmore Hall and Potter's Field would be most useful, thanks in advance!


Posted by: diary queen | Link to this comment | 06- 9-14 10:26 PM
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I barely ever read YA. I read a book my/Thorn's pal wrote, and I read the Pullman trilogy because I heard somewhere they were good and not kind to religion or something. In fact [oh, maybe spoilers] I think what I read was that god dies in the last one. The first one was thrilling and it kind of declined from there and I'm not totally sure god died in any gratifying way but over all I enjoyed them. The writing was decent, right? Not special. At certain points I did get tired of reading a story whose protagonist was a kid, but that's because there's a tiny black marble where my heart should be and I'm just not interested in kids as people.


Posted by: Mister Smearcase | Link to this comment | 06- 9-14 10:30 PM
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whoops, Bethnal Green, not Potter's Field. Flaky stepmother. Wigmore Hall apparently rock solid, I believe the entire immediate tribe is obliged to be in and out of the place on a 6 hour rotation whenever in London. Except for our deaf member, he gets a pass.


Posted by: dairy queen | Link to this comment | 06- 9-14 10:34 PM
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I don't read Slate; I prefer Slate criticism. That way you don't have to read Slate.


Posted by: fake accent | Link to this comment | 06- 9-14 10:47 PM
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There was a short period of time (several hours) that the only non-Chinese website I could access was Slate. I felt like the censors were playing a very cruel trick on me.


Posted by: Buttercup | Link to this comment | 06- 9-14 11:03 PM
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His mother lived in Bethnal Green, which was not altogether his fault; one can discourage too much history in one's family, but one cannot always prevent geography. And, after all, the Bethnal Green habit has this virtue - that it is seldom transmitted to the next generation.

Adrian by Saki


Posted by: teraz kurwa my | Link to this comment | 06- 9-14 11:40 PM
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62: that's a great book, and also, as I think she says explicitly somewhere, the conclusive proof that there were millions of atheists in foxholes.


Posted by: Nworb Werdna | Link to this comment | 06-10-14 12:17 AM
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Response to OP:

http://www.nerve.com/books/a-young-adult-authors-fantastic-crusade-to-defend-literatures-most-maligned-genre


Posted by: | Link to this comment | 06-10-14 3:32 AM
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"Literary" fiction, at least in English, is an invention of the 20th century. Fielding and Smollet didn't think they were writing literary fiction, they thought they were writing ripping yarns. (If AWB reemerges and challenges me on this I will fight back.) So did Dickens, and in a different way the Brontes. Jane Austen rediviva would identify more with P.G.Wodehouse than Virginia Woolf. But they were all writing for adults. If we've come to such a pass that anything fun to read is written off as "genre" by the gatekeepers, then fuck the gatekeepers. If people find they have to read books written for children to get any fun out of it, then fuck the publishers.

I haven't read Harry Potter because it's in a genre I'm not much bothered about, but "Robert Galbraith" writes a mean whodunnit. Well, good enough that I'll get the next one.

[I thought the article was OK until it started going on about Updike. Puhleeze.]


Posted by: chris y | Link to this comment | 06-10-14 3:53 AM
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54: Robert Cormier? My 15 year old self sneers at you.

When I was about 24 I was very self-conscious about reading Literature and not kid crap. As part of this I bought a bunch of Saul Bellow novels. It took me far too long to admit they sucked.

Anyway, solved all those problems when I stopped reading. But this thread does make me understand why Daniel Mendelsohn was arguing with YA lit people on Twitter this weekend. Must have been due to this article, making a disappointing spectacle just a little bit more so.


Posted by: JL | Link to this comment | 06-10-14 3:56 AM
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There should be a term for the variety of contrarianism that's really the consensus view dressed up as contrarianism.

I believe "contrarianism" is the term you're looking for.


Posted by: AcademicLurker | Link to this comment | 06-10-14 4:04 AM
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My impression is that in continental Europe at least, the idea that novels could be Art or could be trash was pretty well established by the mid nineteenth century. Which doesn't mean that they couldn't also be fun and popular but think TV these days - you've got shows that are aiming at critical acclaim and shows that are just seeking to be a fun mindless by the numbers generic ways of passing the time.


Posted by: teraz kurwa my | Link to this comment | 06-10-14 4:06 AM
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Saki - one of my preferred brands of escapism!


Posted by: dairy queen | Link to this comment | 06-10-14 6:33 AM
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Has anybody here else read The Fault in Our Stars? I guess you also have to be willing to admit it.

I read it last weekend. I weeped.


Posted by: peep | Link to this comment | 06-10-14 6:37 AM
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Has anybody here else read The Fault in Our Stars?

I think I'm trying (and failing) to talk like Yoda.


Posted by: peep | Link to this comment | 06-10-14 6:38 AM
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105. Maybe English lit is different?

Goethe and Hugo took their work seriously, but they both saw themselves as poets first. Byron or Tennyson didn't write novels. I guess Walter Scott? But he wrote about the past.


Posted by: lw | Link to this comment | 06-10-14 6:51 AM
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95 more or less mirrors my sense of Pullman/that trilogy (and really, has anyone read anything else the man has written? I submit the answer is No). The third book in particular is a total mess with a big long plot taking up a third of the book that should have been its own goddamn novel.


Posted by: Tom Scudder | Link to this comment | 06-10-14 6:59 AM
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|| So, the Billings city council meeting, which began at 6:30 pm yesterday, finally ended at 6 am today. Public hearing on the non-discrimination ordinance, and they let everyone say their bit. Vote was 7-4 to go forward with ordinance -- it'll be adopted, looks like, later in the month. |>


Posted by: CharleyCarp | Link to this comment | 06-10-14 7:02 AM
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Did people stay for the whole thing?


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 06-10-14 7:03 AM
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110. Yes-- his little book about bears was nice. My kid liked it, I did too. Light, nicely done. No opinion about the other books, haven't read them.


Posted by: lw | Link to this comment | 06-10-14 7:12 AM
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Convergence: Heinlein had a yearbook quote.


Posted by: Minivet | Link to this comment | 06-10-14 7:13 AM
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his little book about bears was nice.

Which one is that?


Posted by: redfoxtailshrub | Link to this comment | 06-10-14 7:21 AM
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115. Once Upon a Time in the North


Posted by: lw | Link to this comment | 06-10-14 7:23 AM
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Thanks!


Posted by: redfoxtailshrub | Link to this comment | 06-10-14 7:25 AM
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112 -- It took that long for the line of people waiting to testify to get their turn. I followed by Twitter last night -- as you'd expect, opponents said every idiot thing, and so some twitter folks suggested a drinking game with 'I have gay friends' 'we're not motivated by hate' and 'there's no discrimination against gay people in our town' as triggers.


Posted by: CharleyCarp | Link to this comment | 06-10-14 7:26 AM
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Who was waiting until 6:00a.m.? People opposed to the ordinance or in favor of it or both?


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 06-10-14 7:34 AM
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From the above, it sounds mostly like those opposed.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 06-10-14 7:35 AM
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So, you know, 101 is awesome, but the idea that "adults should be embarrassed to read YA" is conventional wisdom is actually nonsense. Everybody's on board with that, right? YA is by far the fastest growing fiction segment; the top three NYT trade paperback fiction bestsellers right now are all YA novels. At this point it's like saying "superhero movies are basically a low-quality niche product" is conventional wisdom, if I might be banned for a moment.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 06-10-14 7:35 AM
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Superhero movies suck.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 06-10-14 7:40 AM
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108: I read it, and cried. It's definitely a light bit of fluff, and better suited for teens than adults, but it's still capable of provoking emotion, and the romance is no more ludicrous than Romeo and Juliet. (Although the writing is obviously not up to par. That doesn't have to be said, right?)


Posted by: Parenthetical | Link to this comment | 06-10-14 7:44 AM
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Sifu will now explain that macaroni and cheese followed by Oreos is the greatest food, because he has followed the way of Maureen Dowd.


Posted by: lw | Link to this comment | 06-10-14 7:44 AM
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31: They're Vikings! Of course they die at the end!


Posted by: Todd | Link to this comment | 06-10-14 7:45 AM
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122 is correct. Also the more powerful the superhero the suckier the movie.


Posted by: togolosh | Link to this comment | 06-10-14 7:45 AM
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123: Hurray! This justifies that time I admitted watching that TV show about the model reborn as an overweight attorney (I really can't remember the name of it!)

I'm in basic agreement with your review.


Posted by: peep | Link to this comment | 06-10-14 7:49 AM
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As usual, I'm on all sides of this. The basic problem I see with the article is that people should read whatever they want; it's not hurting anyone. There are books that are badly written, and ones that are probably a bad influence on the reader, but a category as broad as YA isn't going to capture that. So, my primary reaction is shut up and mind your own business.

If we're not going to mind our own business, there is something to be said for the idea that most YA novels are pretty slight, lacking in emotional realism or depth. So, once we're not minding our own business, I can agree that an adult who's confining their reading to YA novels is doing the equivalent of watching sitcoms: fun and harmless, maybe, but mostly not art (using 'art' in a completely undefined Potter Stewart I know it when I see it kind of sense. I'm not going to judge anyone for enjoying Harry Potter, but I don't want to listen to you talking about the literary value. Likewise Hunger Games. And so on).

On the third hand, this line:

But mature readers also find satisfaction of a more intricate kind in stories that confound and discomfit, and in reading about people with whom they can't empathize at all.

made me want to kick the writer in the shins. There's something immature about wanting to read books that are something other than discomfiting, and being able to empathize with the characters on some level? Art is at least sometimes about pleasure, it's not supposed to be a dietary supplement that's good for you but tastes nasty. I will read something discomfiting, if it comes my way, but I resent being told that a novel that is straightforwardly enjoyable is by definition valueless. (Admittedly, on re-reading the article trying to pull quotes to disagree with, she didn't quite say that. But I could hear her thinking it.)


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 06-10-14 7:57 AM
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On quick reading I thought 128 made reference to "Harry Potter Stewart", which sent the mind reeling.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 06-10-14 8:01 AM
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It's hard for a 50 year-old man to empathize with smartass teenage girl! Why shouldn't I get brownie points for that?


Posted by: peep | Link to this comment | 06-10-14 8:05 AM
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120 -- No, supporters were later to get in line, because they were having a rally. I think it was fairly split, though.


Posted by: CharleyCarp | Link to this comment | 06-10-14 8:06 AM
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122: American superhero movies suck.


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 06-10-14 9:00 AM
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These two bits seem to me to be the central, important parts of the article:

These are the books, like The Fault in Our Stars, that are about real teens doing real things, and that rise and fall not only on the strength of their stories but, theoretically, on the quality of their writing. These are the books that could plausibly be said to be replacing literary fiction in the lives of their adult readers. And that's a shame.

and

It's not simply that YA readers are asked to immerse themselves in a character's emotional life--that's the trick of so much great fiction--but that they are asked to abandon the mature insights into that perspective that they (supposedly) have acquired as adults.

In the first one she seems convinced that there's this thing called Adult Literary Fiction (composed of contemporary literary works and old books that everyone says are classics)* and that people are replacing it with simpler teen dramas as opposed to just enjoying teen dramas more than Adult Literary Fiction. YA fiction (but not the sort that almost all YA fiction actually is) is a less effective display of personal virtue and insight, and she's annoyed that she has fewer people to demonstrate it to since people are talking about other things at the moment.

The part that makes the article impressive to me is how clear it is that that's what's going on. It's hard to take seriously someone who rails about how YA novels aren't sophisticated enough because they (often, apparently, despite everything I remember about the "serious" ones) have happy or satisfactory endings unlike, for example, [insert very intellectual and serious book that she just recently read and appreciated in a subtle and adult fashion] which didn't. Or at least it's hard if she then immediately talks about how rewarding, in a similar fashion, she also finds the works of Charles Dickens. It's pretty clear that the joy of great adult literature she's appreciating is the sense that in reading them she is subtly appreciating things in a sophisticated fashion, but that she has a lot of trouble doing that with books that don't explicitly lay out how to do that, or that don't have a sparknotes page. I don't know how books could make people abandon those mature perspectives unless by that she means "failing to point out to them what those mature perspectives actually are", or "can be read or enjoyed without doing taking that perspective". Usually people are at least a little less obvious about this.

*(This part amused me most since these are, in many cases at least, two very different categories. The only obvious feature tying them all together is that they have a certain social cachet, and that it's nice to feel like the sort of sophisticated intelligent person who appreciates these things. In other words, it's the "Unlike people who sing along to pop songs in their cars, I appreciate serious and complex music like the longer pieces by Schoenberg and classic opera buffa." of literature.)


Posted by: MHPH | Link to this comment | 06-10-14 10:04 AM
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133: Agree! She's being a snob without a cause.


Posted by: peep | Link to this comment | 06-10-14 10:16 AM
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If she would talk more about form and style rather than content, narrative, or character she might have a better point but arguments about complexity and difficulty as in themselves uplifting and morally improving are, to say the least, challenging to demonstrate. That case can and has been made for the cognitive effects of varying kinds of presentation and reception.

We don't read Shakes for his fucking stories. It is exactly the difficulty of the language that might be good for us.


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 06-10-14 11:18 AM
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Mori Ogai "Dancing Girl" 1890. Can't seem to find a translated text online for a classic story that is 125 years old and has dozens of pages of linked analysis

Version One Cinema Part One

Anime Version 1985

http://www.dailymotion.com/video/xsa3gj_ga-Ga-nime version

"Ga-nime" is interesting. Essentially a series of still frames, but then cinema and anime are nothing but a sucession of still frames. I guess the deliberate omission of transitional and in-between frames that create the illusion of motion on screen such that the artistic choice is obvious and meaningful in itself...well whatever.


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 06-10-14 11:37 AM
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Bob is on glue. We exactly read Shakespeare for his stories, and for the language. But without the stories it is nowhere.

Re:133 much of the successful "adult" fiction produced can only aspire to the sophistication of good "YA" fiction. Dan Brown? John Grisham? Daniele Steele? Clive Cussler ? Pick your legion of infantile formulaic genre writers....

The majority of successful commercial writing is intellectual pap, because that's what people will pay for and enjoy in large numbers. Nothing wrong with that. Going after YA for its supposed lack of sophistication is pathetic, especially when all you have to hold against it is "serious" literature that nobody reads anyway, to a first approximation.


Posted by: disenchanted | Link to this comment | 06-10-14 8:36 PM
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137.1: You aren't supposed to mention the elephant.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 06-10-14 8:56 PM
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Octavian Nothing was serious, mature and funny. Best part: Shortly after Octavian is drafted into the British irregulars, they are issued shirts with "Liberty to Slaves!" stitched on them. Of course, they run away and end up in rebel-held territory. Naturally, they fit in better without the shirts. This moment is rendered with an almost perfect level of awkwardness.

Also ... Ogged is back!?! I feel like I just crawled out from under a rock.


Posted by: Yuri Guri | Link to this comment | 06-10-14 9:37 PM
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128 If we're not going to mind our own business, there is something to be said for the idea that most YA novels are pretty slight, lacking in emotional realism or depth.


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 06-10-14 9:45 PM
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64: I blame an in-retrospect ill-advised relationship.


Posted by: Cosma Shalizi | Link to this comment | 06-11-14 8:37 AM
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139.last: He has that effect on a lot of people.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 06-11-14 8:40 AM
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141: I did wonder if that was part of it (not the "ill-advised" and almost speculated on that. But I'm nothing if not discreet ...


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 06-11-14 8:56 AM
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Discretion is the better part of parenthetical closure.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 06-11-14 8:57 AM
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We're still in the parenthetical. It's like the grammatical version ofTron.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 06-11-14 8:59 AM
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And we can talk about whatever we like in here, doesn't have to be on topic or anything. Liberating!


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 06-11-14 9:00 AM
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147

Meow!


Posted by: Schrödinger's cat | Link to this comment | 06-11-14 9:05 AM
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Did you ever really look at your nose boogers?


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 06-11-14 9:06 AM
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)


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 06-11-14 9:07 AM
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Wait, why did you specify "nose" boogers? What other kind of boogers might come up?


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 06-11-14 9:08 AM
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The first rule of Parenthetical Club is that you don't talk about things in the parenthetical outside of the parenthetical.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 06-11-14 9:12 AM
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The first rule of Parenthetical Club is that you don't talk about things in the parenthetical outside of the parenthetical.

I shall wait for Parenthetical to rule on that.


Posted by: chris y | Link to this comment | 06-11-14 9:14 AM
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What other kind of boogers might come up?

Parenthetical boogers.


Posted by: MAE | Link to this comment | 06-11-14 9:14 AM
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I always look at my boogers. If the color is wrong, I may have a sinus infection.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 06-11-14 9:16 AM
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154: You could provide a public service with a helpful color guide.


Posted by: peep | Link to this comment | 06-11-14 9:20 AM
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That sounds more like a rationalization than a reason.


Posted by: Eggplant | Link to this comment | 06-11-14 9:21 AM
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154: Every time I talk to my mom on the phone and sound congested or am sneezing a lot, she asks me what color the mucus is. It never stops being awkward.


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 06-11-14 9:31 AM
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LMNOUCUS!


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 06-11-14 9:33 AM
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International Essear's Awesomely Awkward Parents Day is making me so happy!


Posted by: Thorn | Link to this comment | 06-11-14 9:34 AM
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157: Tell her it's plaid.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 06-11-14 10:18 AM
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"Oh, you know, jizz-colored, like usual."


Posted by: Eggplant | Link to this comment | 06-11-14 10:22 AM
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161: That opens him up for the next question, about exactly what color that is, usually. This might not decrease the level of awkwardness as such.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 06-11-14 10:27 AM
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You can't find Bob, but you know where Standpipe is.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 06-11-14 11:00 AM
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Currently my son does not resist my low-key but firm directives regarding care of his complexion. In fact, I strongly suspect he enjoys the attention and appreciates the results. But the potential for decades of awkwardness looms ... *evil cackle* ....


Posted by: dairy queen | Link to this comment | 06-11-14 11:05 AM
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164 -- what exactly are you talking about? I'm scared to ask in light of 161's reference to jizz.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 06-11-14 11:06 AM
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But the potential for decades of awkwardness looms ... *evil cackle* ....

Is this your recommended skin care regimen?


Posted by: NickS | Link to this comment | 06-11-14 11:08 AM
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You have a filthy mind.

Good quality, mild cleanser, a clean washcloth & warm running water every night. Targeted application of French drugstore ant-spot crème. Saintly and forbearing reminders every once in a while re how lucky he is I'm not French or I would have been all over him from day one to not touch his face. But that he really should not touch his face. Not that I'm hassling him about it, or anything...


Posted by: dairy queen | Link to this comment | 06-11-14 11:11 AM
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anti, not formi.


Posted by: dairy queen | Link to this comment | 06-11-14 11:12 AM
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